Slide 1 of 11
Emotions matter. Happiness, sadness, anxiety and anger all color our days and have a huge impact on how we feel about our lives.
But emotion reaches beyond the realm of feeling and influences people in ways far less obvious than might be expected. In this realm of "embodied cognition," social scientists are finding that the body influences the mind and the mind influences the body. Even the words people use to describe an experience have physical consequences.
Here are a few examples of how the physical and the mental influence one another.
Love is sweetSlide 2 of 11
Love is sweet
The sugar explosion around Valentine's Day is no coincidence. Research published in January 2014 finds that being in love makes food and drink — even tasteless distilled water — seem sweeter.
The finding illustrates how some rhetorical flourishes ("sweetheart," for example) have roots in the body. Study researcher Kai Qin Chan, a doctoral candidate at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, suspects that the association between sweetness and love starts early, when babies learn to associate their parents' love with formula or breast milk.Slide 3 of 11
Importance is heavySlide 4 of 11
Importance is heavy
Giving someone a heavy clipboard can make them think job candidates are more serious than someone holding a light clipboard, according to a 2010 study. The seriousness-heaviness link works the other way around, too. In research published in January 2011, psychologists told people a book was full of either important information or fluff. When asked to judge the weight of the book, participants thought it was heavier if they'd been told it was full of important writing.Slide 5 of 11
Powerlessness is, tooSlide 6 of 11
Powerlessness is, too
Importance isn't the only thing that makes objects feel heavy. Powerlessness does, too.
People induced to feel powerless, either by writing about a vulnerable experience or assuming a weak physical pose, are more likely to feel like objects are heavier than people who don't feel powerless, researchers reported in February 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The effect may keep powerless people from overextending themselves, given that they don't control resources like a powerful person does, study researcher Eun Hee Lee of the University of Cambridge told Live Science.Slide 7 of 11
Loneliness is coldSlide 8 of 11